or the story of Reggie the Roofer
Reggie has been in the roofing business for many years. Much of his business comes from tier 1 contractors working in the public sector.
Reggie has a good memory. He recalls attending a launch of the “Fair Payment Charter” on 19 September 2007. This charter was signed off by government and by the representatives of all the industry’s umbrella bodies; a key element in this charter was that everyone would be paid within 30 days. Reggie was pleased that finally things was moving in the right direction.
But Reggie’s optimism was short-lived. He recalls that there was only one project on which the charter was mentioned but it was subsequently ignored.
Then government brought in project bank accounts (PBAs). Reggie has been involved in one project where a PBA was used. He was paid within 12 days.
Then in October 2012 Reggie read that the Prime Minister had introduced something called the Supply Chain Finance Initiative. He has been asked to sign up to this on some of his projects but has refused; be believes it to be a scam. All he can see is that some tier 1 contractors and their banks are using this to make a huge windfall.
Shortly afterwards the (then) Business Secretary, Michael Fallon, warned FTSE 100 and 250 companies that, as from January 2013, they would be named and shamed if they did not sign up to the Prompt Payment Code. Reggie can’t recall whether anybody was, in fact, named and shamed.
Reggie now awaits with interest to see whether the new statutory reporting requirements (under the Small Business etc. Act 2015) will make a difference. Large companies will have to make public their payment performance but this will have to wait until this autumn for implementation.
Some of Reggie’s usual optimism returned with the introduction of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. As from 26 February 2015 these require that all firms (down to tier 3 contractors) are paid within 30 days. But then he read an article in CN about a survey carried out by trade credit insurers, Euler Hermes. This revealed that in 2015 firms in construction suffered more payment delays than in any other UK sector.
What was left of Reggie’s optimism was, by now, rapidly evaporating. He has just been asked to sign something called the Construction Supply Chain Payment Charter. Reggie discovered that this had originally been launched by the Business Department in April 2014 but had only attracted two signatures.
Reggie decided to do a bit of research. Since the launch of the 2007 charter there have been well over 20 official initiatives relating to payment. What more could this latest re-incarnation deliver (if anything)? But Reggie was now rapidly losing the will to live.
He refused to sign the latest charter. Instead he downloaded as many paper copies as he could and drove to Victoria Street in London. There, outside the Business Department, he set fire to the whole lot.